Last week, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford had an op-ed in the Washington Post outlining a conservative approach to climate change. In this article, Sanford appeared to take seriously the challenge of reconciling conservative principles with a serious approach to climate change policy. I am not sure he succeeded, but the effort itself is significant.
I comment on Sanford's op-ed in this NRO article. Here is a taste:
Articulating a truly conservative environmental agenda is much easier said than done, however, particularly for those holding elective office. Most conservatives who engage environmental issues are either knee-jerk reactionaries or half-hearted mimics of the environmental Left. Either is a mistake. The former know what to be against, but have difficulty deciding what to support. Opposing the legislative agenda of the Sierra Club makes sense more often than not, but blindly denying the existence of environmental problems or reflexively accommodating industry demands does not. On the other hand, endorsing the traditional green agenda, but only promising to make it cost less or more efficient hardly inspires support or trust. If massive government intervention is necessary to save the planet, why should voters wish to do it on the cheap? Becoming Al Gore lite is no way to beat Al Gore.Too many conservatives believe environmental concerns are something to dismiss or deride. Therefore, when someone with Governor Sanford's profile seeks to take these issues seriously, it is a positive development.
Based upon his Washington Post op-ed, Governor Sanford seems to have learned some of these lessons. He noted conservative politicians have yet to present much of an alternative to conventional environmental policies, in the context of climate change, or any other issue for that matter. Setting aside his misguided effort to blame Carolina coastal erosion on global warming and hyperbolic account of climate change's current effects, he understands issues like climate change are not going away. Unfortunately, there is little in his article to suggest the sort of actual policies that a conservative could endorse without sacrificing conservative principle.